Rifle football pulls off postseason upset against Florence; Glenwood drops season finale to Palisade, misses playoffs

Rifle Bear Jesus Martinez celebrates after a big tackle in the first half of the rivalry game against the Glenwood Springs Demons earlier this season.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

In stunning fashion, Rifle football pulled off a 14-7 Class 2A postseason upset against Florence on the road Saturday.

“This tells us we have a resilient bunch that’s just starting to figure it out,” Bears head coach Ryan Whittington said. “We’re just growing and learning.” 

Having won out the final three games of the regular season, the 14th-ranked Bears traveled to play third-ranked Florence in the opening round of the state 2A playoffs.

“The kids played hard,” Whittington said. “I think our coaches put together a great game plan to contain (Florence’s quarterback).”

Rifle struck first in the first quarter with a bootleg pass from junior Logan Gross to senior running back Nicholas Saldivar. With a good extra point, the Bears went up 7-0.

“Our kids executed really well,” Whittington said. “We grinded through a tough game and we executed at the right times.”

Florence tied the game at 7 apiece after scoring on a touchdown pass in the third quarter.

With just six minutes left in the third quarter, Rifle marched downfield and scored on a short quarterback sneak by Gross, and the Bears managed to close out the game without Florence answering back.

The Bears now play Montezuma-Cortez in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs next weekend. Montezuma-Cortez is ranked 11th and picked up a 21-7 upset over 6th-ranked Elizabeth in the first round.

The game is slated for 1 p.m. next Saturday in Cortez.

“We’re putting our work in,” Whittington said. “We’ll see where the chips fall.”

Palisade 42, Glenwood Springs 8

In the 3A regular season finale for Glenwood Springs, the Demons got steamrolled by the Palisade Bulldogs, 42-8, at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction Friday night. Palisade senior Tyrus Despain had three rushing touchdowns for the game, as the Bulldogs defense kept the Demons at bay.

The loss dropped Glenwood (5-5 overall, 2-3 league) into fourth place in the 3A League, and out of the playoff picture as the 3A state playoff brackets were announced Sunday.

Palisade, by virtue of a strong second half to the season, including a 3-2 league mark to finish third behind Durango and Summit, made it into the playoffs as the 13th seed. Durango (9-1) enters as the No. 2 seed and Summit (also 9-1) is seeded sixth. Undefeated Roosevelt earned the top seed in the 16-team field.

The loss marked the final game in a Demons jersey for seniors Gus Heisel, Andy Heisel, Marcos Aragon, Alex Erdman, Noah Skwiot, Edwin Olave, Reece McMillan, Brody Porter, Cole Sherick, Cael Stalter, Kodiak Kellogg, Abdiel Argueta, Alex Cruz, Fernando Quintero, Blaise Rippy, and Cameron Small.

— Demons report by John Stroud

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